Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Miriam Patchen papers
Date (inclusive): 1930-2000
Date (bulk): (bulk 1972-2000)
Collection number: MS 161
University of California, Santa Cruz. University Library.
Special Collections and Archives
Santa Cruz, California 95064
Abstract: This collection contains biographical material, correspondence, photographs, musical scores, audio recordings, a film and
an artifact, documenting Miriam Patchen's promotion of her late husband's work.
Physical location: Stored in Special Collections & Archives: Advance notice is required for access to the papers.
Collection open for research
Property rights reside with the University of California. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and
their heirs. For permission to publish or to reproduce the material, please contact the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
Miriam Patchen papers. MS 161. Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of
California, Santa Cruz.
Miriam Patchen, wife of American novelist and poet Kenneth Patchen, peace activist, and longtime Palo Alto resident, died
March 6, 2000 at the age of 86.
Born Sirkka Miriam Oikemus in Belmont, Massachusetts in September 28, 1914, Miriam, like her Finnish socialist parents, became
a lifelong political activist. She joined the American Communist Party at age 7 and claimed to be the "youngest card-carrying
member" of this party.
She met Kenneth Patchen in 1933 and in June of 1934, they married. The Patchens moved to New York in 1935, where Kenneth's
Before the Brave, was published the following year. For the next thirty eight years of their marriage and through the creation of more than
forty works of poetry and prose all dedicated "For Miriam", she was Patchen's "Muse" and complete partner in all the successes
and hardships of their lives.
After the loss of her husband, Miriam diligently continued to campaign for poetry and for peace. She stood together with her
later partner, the civil-rights activist, Laurent Franz on the corner of El Camino Real and Embarcadero Roadevery for 15 years
holding a picket sign protesting American military intervention around the world. She was active in promoting her husband's
poetry by taking part in readings and exhibits of Kenneth's work across the US and abroad; "Kenneth Patchen Literary Festival"
held at the poet's home town Warren, Ohio between 1987-1989, the "Word, Image and Rhythms: a celebration of Kenneth Patchen"
in London, 1998, and an exhibition of Patchen's silkscreen prints in Centro Studi Americani in Rome, 1999 etc. For the last
two years of her life Miriam assisted Larry Smith on the biography,
Kenneth Patchen: rebel poet in America. She was also featured in a documentary
Miriam Is Not Amused, directed by Kim Roberts in 1998.
People who knew Miriam remember her as a woman of compassion, intelligence and wit, and one who was devoted to her causes
Scope and Content of Collection
Miriam Patchen papers are arranged into seven series; biographical material, correspondence, photographs, musical scores,
audio recordings, film and artifact. Bulk of the material covers her local and international activities from 1972-2000 to
promote her late husband's, literary work. Her activities included attending poetry readings, granting permissions to exhibit
and publish Patchen's literary works, and establishing of Kenneth Patchen archive at UCSC Special Collections in 1975 and
the further collaborative efforts with the institution.
The only items dating back to pre-1972 era are a memoir about Miriam's first meeting with Patchen, the courtship, and early
years of marriage, and a handful of family photographs from 1920's-1950's. The largest series, biographical material and correspondence,
includes more than half of the total content.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in
the library's online public access catalog.
Authors, American--20th century.
Poets, American--20th century.
Genres and Forms of Materials
Other Index Terms Related to this Collection
Patchen, Kenneth--1911-1972--Kenneth Patchen archive
The Kenneth Patchen Archive at UCSC includes the following related collections:
Identifier/Call Number: MS 160
Kenneth Patchen papers,
Identifier/Call Number: MS 161
Miriam Patchen papers,
Identifier/Call Number: MS 163
Kathryn Winslow collection,
Identifier/Call Number: MS 164
Alan and Beatrice Parker collection,
Identifier/Call Number: MS 165
James Boyer May correspondence,
Identifier/Call Number: MS 166
Kenneth Patchen Festival records,
Identifier/Call Number: MS 167
Chester Kessler papers,
Identifier/Call Number: MS 168
Fred Wright correspondence,
Identifier/Call Number: MS 169
Charles and Barbara Paine collection,
Identifier/Call Number: MS 170
William M. Roth correspondence,
Identifier/Call Number: MS 172
Peter Veres papers,
Identifier/Call Number: MS 173
"Kenneth Patchen: Hurrah for Anything" film production records,
Identifier/Call Number: MS 175
William Plumley collection,
Identifier/Call Number: MS 176
Tom and Rita Bottoms collection,
Identifier/Call Number: MS 177
Johnny Wittwer papers,
Collections in other institutions: